On Monday evening, Speaker of the House Paul Ryan held a town hall covering various issues, notably including the violence that unfolded in the city of Charlottesville the week before. During the forum, however, moderator Jake Tapper began by asking Ryan what he thought of Trump's new Afghanistan strategy. Though Ryan disagreed with the way Trump handled Charlottesville, he suggested he believes the president may have turned a new leaf after delivering his statement on Afghanistan.
The speaker had announced the town hall in a Facebook post earlier in the day, writing that "the views that fueled this spectacle are repugnant," and that "so long as [hate] exists, we need to talk about it." At that point, people began suspecting he would openly admit that he disagreed with Trump.
"If America stands for anything, it is the idea that the condition of your birth doesn’t affect the outcome of your life," the Speaker wrote. "The notion that anyone is intrinsically superior to anyone else runs completely counter to our founding principles. Those principles make America special."
During his town hall on Monday, Ryan did indeed say that Trump "messed up" his response to the violence in Charlottesville. "I do believe that he messed up in his comments on Tuesday when it sounded like moral equivocation or at the very least moral ambiguity when we need extreme moral clarity," he told Tapper. But Ryan also said that he believes the president was correct on Monday evening during his speech to the nation about the strategy in Afghanistan.
He messed up on Tuesday. He was right on Monday and he was right just about an hour ago.
Just an hour before Ryan began his speech, Trump had revealed a new Afghanistan strategy that prioritizes acting based on ground conditions as opposed to time tables. In addition, Trump put a greater focus on addressing Pakistan and its harboring of terrorists. Ryan told Tapper at the beginning of the town hall event that he was "pleased" with Trump's latest speech — much more pleased than he was with Trump's Charlottesville remarks on Tuesday.
I'm pleased with the decision. We cannot allow another safe haven for terrorists to materialize again.
Monday's town hall was held in Racine, Wisconsin. It was the first public, in-person forum he's held in almost two years, as his last such event was in October 2015. In May, he held several forums but closed them to the public, explaining that he wanted to avoid "a harassing environment."